* Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., and ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, Calif., signed a collaborative agreement to identify new drug candidates using ACADIA's cell-based screening technology. ACADIA will screen more than 1 million compounds in Genzyme's library. If any hits result, the companies will negotiate a research collaboration agreement covering development and commercialization.
* Atlantic Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., will present data on 2-5A activator today at the annual meeting of the International Society of Interferon and Cytokine Research, in San Diego. In combination with antisense therapies, 2-5A is a potential therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia. An experimental oligonucleotide enhanced with 2-5A effectively suppressed the growth of leukemia cells isolated from bone marrow of CML patients. The activator, which recruits the activity of the RNase L enzyme, was eveloped by Atlantic subsidiary Gemini Technologies Inc.
* Molecular Dynamics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Amersham International P.L.C., of London, have signed a collaboration agreement with DuPont Agricultural Products, a subsidiary of the Wilmington, Del.-based E.I. Du Pont & Co. DuPont will use the companies' microarray system to study gene expression levels in agricultural seed and plant species and to develop healthier and more disease-resistant plants.
* NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., initiated a Phase I clinical trial in of liposome-encapsulated doxorubicin (LED) in hormone-refractory patients with prostate cancer. The drug is also in an ongoing multiple target Phase I trial.
* Procept Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., has begun analysis of a completed second Phase I trial of Pro 2000 Gel, an intravaginally delivered gel designed to prevent HIV-1 infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. No adverse events were reported.
* Advanced Tissue Sciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., received FDA approval of Dermagraft-TC as a temporary wound covering for partial-thickness burns. The product--human, fibroblast-derived temporary skin substitute--was first approved for marketing in March as a temporary wound covering for severe burns. The broader labeling could increase Dermagraft-TC's market dramatically. According to the company, 1,500 people are severely burned each year, but 30,000 to 40,000 patients each year seek medical treatment for partial-thickness burns.
* Stem Cell Therapuetics L.L.C., of King of Prussia, Pa., received a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The six-month grant will support the establishment of an effective one-step protocol for the enrichment or purification of blood stem cells. The company has discovered a blood stem cell marker called glycoprotein 105.
* Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., presented preliminary 12-week data from an ongoing Phase II study of 141W94 (VX-478) at the Sixth European Conference on Clinical Aspects and Treatment of HIV-infection, in Hamburg Germany. At 12 weeks, 70 percent of patients receiving the protease inhibitor in combination with Retrovir (AZT) and Epivir (3TC) had undetectable viral load.
* Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., is considering genital herpes as the primary disease target for Omniferon, a second-generation natural alpha interferon. The company said it is fast-tracking the indication based on a New England Journal of Medicine study indicating 45 million U.S. residents are infected with genital herpes
* Vysis Inc., of Downers Grove, Ill., introduced its new Quips mFISH (multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization) Imaging software. The software permits the analysis and display of ratio or combinatorial labels and produces brilliant fluorescent images, which allow researchers to identify chromosomal abnormalities, including complex aberrations.* Cambridge NeuroScience Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., initiated a second Phase I study of the ion-channel blocking small molecule CNS 5161 for the treatment of neuropathic pain and migrain. In the first Phase I trial, conducted in Scotland, the drug was well tolerated. The second trial will compare the effects of 5161 to those of morphine and placebo.
* SIBIA Neurosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., entered a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., of San Diego. SIBIA will license its transcription based assay patents to Neurocrine for use with an undisclosed molecular target. In exchange, SIBIA gains access to a Neurocrine compound library for use in drug discovery and high-throughput screening programs directed to nervous system targets.
* SuperGen Inc., of San Ramon, Calif., agreed to supply Nipent (pentostatin for injection) to Warner-Lambert Co., of Morris Plains, N.J., for distribution outside North America, where SuperGen already exclusively markets the product. SuperGen acquired Nipent -- including intellectual property and North American marketing rights -- from Warner-Lambert in Sept. 1996. Nipent is cleared in the U.S. for the treatment of hairy cell leukemia.
* Texas Biotechnology Corp., of Houston, initiated a Phase IIa clinical trial of TBC1269, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication for the treatment and prevention of asthma. The trial protocol is designed to evaluate the effects of the drug on pulmonary function and on the immune component of the asthmatic attack. TBC1269 is the lead compound in a series of synthetic small compounds that the inhibit inflammation-related, selectin-mediated cellular adhesion.